Maria, an employee at Great Western Bank in Nebraska.

Strength in Cultural Diversity—Faces of GWB: Maria

Each year, World Day for Cultural Diversity is honored in May. This day serves to recognize all cultures, deepen the understanding around those cultures, and better identify the values of cultural diversity.

Within Great Western Bank, we celebrate the cultural diversity of our employees throughout the year but are using the month of May to honor four of our own. As we look to their individual stories, we see a path carved with cultural richness, stories of acculturation and an introspective look at their uniquely individualized journeys.

Read Maria’s story:

After 37 years of knowing one way of life, Maria committed to providing her children a better future and had to pivot to learn a completely new way.

Maria and her family moved to the U.S. from Bethlehem, Free State, South Africa. Though Maria’s primary language is Afrikaans, she is also fluent in English. Maria began learning English in the 2nd grade and was required to pass her language test before advancing to the next grade level.

Though Maria did not encounter an outward language barrier, she did have to account for cultural shifts. Largely in the form of norms – such as driving on the right side of the road, processing measurements from a metric system to a system of units, and adapting to a fast and immediate lifestyle that embraces fast food and drive-thru services. Maria notes that they never used paper plates and plastic utensils. Instead, it was customary to stylize your table with proper silverware, decorative glass plates, formal glassware, and fresh flowers. Dining together was viewed as an expression that celebrated the gathering of family.

Maria does not see a great division in parenting practices and contends that mutually, children need to strive for greatness and need to work hard.

Maria, an employee of GWB since 2018, now embraces her cultural background by mixing it in with their new lifestyle.

Great Western Bank supports a rich tapestry of cultural diversity. We recognize the differences of our employees and support the unique talents and backgrounds each brings to their work environments. From the diverse contributions of our employees, we are strengthened together.

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